THE WORDS AND SENTIMENTS OF DAVID HEELEY - BROADCASTER | FOOD CRITIC | TRAVEL WRITER

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Help me battle to resurrect old favourites


Having recently given a talk to a group restaurateurs in Palma, Mallorca, I was accosted afterwards by a British lady who said that my speech had been “absolutely superfluous” (sic) would it be published locally, she wondered? I told her it would – but only posthumously.  “I can’t wait” she replied.

Well, with fans such as this it’s at least nice to know that my articles have a truly international reach because it was whilst waiting for my return flight to Blackpool International Airport – surely an oxymoron – that I chanced upon my GP, Dr Evans.

“David”, he said,
“I read that marvellous piece you wrote recently about the British troops teaching their French counterparts to cook – but do you know the origin of Chicken Marengo?” he enquired.

Flummoxed – and groping to remember my fourth form history – I mumbled something about it taking its name from the battle of the same name.

“Yes, yes” he persisted “but do you know what the original dish featured that has long since dissapeared”.  Now, stretching my culinary expertise to breaking point, I suggested a range of implausible ingredients from oranges to oregano and from capers to cockles but none were right.

“You must write about it in your next column” he insisted, “It’s fascinating because the original dish – now long since forgotten – featured eggs”.

Now, whilst I didn’t know that, what I do know is that as with all great recipes ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, and it was Napoleon’s hard pressed chefs, who had to use the meagre resources they had before them to come up with a celebratory meal fit for an emperor.  The result? Chicken Marengo – which if you are ever now lucky enough to find on a menu will almost certainly come without the eggs.

It’s a classic example of the varying vicissitudes of fashion that mean that some culinary classics like peach melba or black forest gateau disappear for a generation before being discovered afresh.

Do you know any delectable dishes that have dropped off the culinary radar that you’d like to see resurrected? Drop me an email on your favourites and I’ll do my best to try and stimulate some interest from the great restaurants of Lancashire.

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